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1 Corinthians 1:17--2:16

Context
1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless. 1 

The Message of the Cross

1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” 2  1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? 3  Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 1:22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 1:23 but we preach about a crucified Christ, 4  a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 1:24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, 5  and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 6 

1:26 Think about the circumstances of your call, 7  brothers and sisters. 8  Not many were wise by human standards, 9  not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 10  1:27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 1:28 God chose 11  what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 1:29 so that no one can boast in his presence. 1:30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, 12  who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 1:31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 13 

2:1 When I came 14  to you, brothers and sisters, 15  I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony 16  of God. 2:2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing 17  among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. 2:4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 2:5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Wisdom from God

2:6 Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, 18  but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. 2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 2:9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, 19  are the things God has prepared for those who love him. 20  2:10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 2:13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 21  2:14 The unbeliever 22  does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 2:15 The one who is spiritual discerns 23  all things, yet he himself is understood 24  by no one. 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? 25  But we have the mind of Christ.

1 tn Grk “would not be emptied.”

2 sn A quotation from Isa 29:14.

3 tn Grk “the scribe.” The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateu") as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the Mosaic law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader.

4 tn Or “Messiah”; Grk “preach Christ [Messiah] crucified,” giving the content of the message.

5 tn Grk “than men.”

6 tn Grk “than men.”

7 tn Grk “Think about your calling.” “Calling” in Paul’s writings usually refers to God’s work of drawing people to faith in Christ. The following verses show that “calling” here stands by metonymy for their circumstances when they became Christians, leading to the translation “the circumstances of your call.”

8 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

9 tn Grk “according to the flesh.”

10 tn The Greek word ευγενής (eugenh") refers to the status of being born into nobility, wealth, or power with an emphasis on the privileges and benefits that come with that position.

11 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

12 tn Grk “of him you are in Christ Jesus.”

13 sn A quotation from Jer 9:24. The themes of Jer 9 have influenced Paul’s presentation in vv. 26-31. Jeremiah calls upon the wise, the strong, and the wealthy not to trust in their resources but in their knowledge of the true God – and so to boast in the Lord. Paul addresses the same three areas of human pride.

14 tn Grk “and I, when I came.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, κἀγώ (kagw) has not been translated here.

15 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

16 tc ‡ A few important mss (Ì46vid א* A C pc as well as some versions and fathers) read μυστήριον (musthrion, “mystery”) instead of μαρτύριον (marturion, “testimony”). But the latter has wider ms support (א2 B D F G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï and some versions), though not quite as impressive. μαρτύριον may have been changed by scribes in anticipation of Paul’s words in 2:7, or conversely, μυστήριον may have been changed to conform to 1:6. Transcriptionally, since “the mystery of God/Christ” is a well-worn expression in the corpus Paulinum (1 Cor 2:7; 4:1; Eph 3:4; Col 2:2; 4:3), while “testimony of Christ” occurs in Paul only once (1 Cor 1:6, though “testimony of the Lord” appears in 2 Tim 1:8), and “testimony of God” never, it is likely that scribes changed the text to the more usual expression. A decision is difficult in this instance, but a slight preference should be given to μαρτύριον.

17 tn Grk “to know nothing.”

18 tn In extrabiblical literature this word was applied to an initiate of a mystery religion (BDAG 995 s.v. τέλειος 3, gives numerous examples and states this was a technical term of the mystery religions). It could here refer to those who believed Paul’s message, the mystery of God (v. 1), and so be translated as “those who believe God’s message.”

19 tn Grk “entered the heart,” an OT expression, in which the heart functions like the mind.

20 sn A quotation from Isa 64:4.

21 tn Or “combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (i.e., words the Spirit gives, as just described).

22 tn Grk “natural person.” Cf. BDAG 1100 s.v. ψυχικός a, “an unspiritual pers., one who merely functions bodily, without being touched by the Spirit of God.”

23 tn Or “evaluates.”

24 tn Or “is evaluated” (i.e., “is subject to evaluation”); Grk “he himself is discerned,” that is, the person without the Spirit does not understand the person with the Spirit, particularly in relation to the life of faith.

25 sn A quotation from Isa 40:13.



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